Volume 17 • Issue 10 / July 30 - August 05, 2004

Special Report

Landscape group presents park plan for Varick triangle

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg

Rendering of Renaissance Park which will be built at Canal, Laight and Varick Sts.

As part of the new design for the Tribeca park planned for the triangle at Laight, Canal and Varick Sts., stones from the 50 states—including volcanic rock from Hawaii and quartz from Virginia—will line the space’s winding brick path.

Plans for the new half-acre park, Renaissance Park also include a potential 24-ft tall stone waterfall and decorative metal fencing and benches, all designed for free by top landscape designers and architects from across the country — members of the American Landscape Contractors Association. The New York City Parks Department and Downtown’s Community Board 1 recently approved the design. Now, the city’s Art Commission must consent before construction can begin this coming fall.

“We’re just so hungry for a park down here,” said Albert Capsouto, chairperson of C.B. 1’s Tribeca committee. “This is a terrible area for pedestrians, and we want to get it fixed up.”

The Art Commission is currently working with members from the association, a national trade organization that agreed to design, fund and build the park post-9/11, to finalize plans. The project will cost about $1.5 million, said David Fiore, a landscape architect for the Wilton, Connecticut-based Glen Gate Company and association member who worked on the project design.

Vicki Bendure, the association’s spokesperson, said the commission may want to modify the waterfall before approving the design. “We’re trying to see if it’s feasible financially,” she said. Association members will have to return to the commission when it meets again in September to negotiate the design.

Several years ago the Parks Department decided to convert the empty concrete lot into a park and completed initial designs early September 2001, but following the terrorist attacks postponed the project. “Everything was on track, but then obviously with the events, [the plans] got sidetracked and were pushed back in terms of priority,” Capsouto said.

Following 9/11, the American Landscape Contractors Association proposed to build the park as a gift to Lower Manhattan, in conjunction with the Parks Department. The park’s name, Renaissance Park, will signify rebirth and renaissance for New York City and for Tribeca, Capsouto said.

“Our goal is to make it a really beautiful green space,” Bendure said. “The association wanted to do something after 9/11, but with a sensitivity that people living in the area might want something more uplifting and not necessarily associated with remembering 9/11.”

The group is raising money to buy additional materials and to set up a maintenance fund. Anyone wishing to participate in the project can make a monetary donation to the association or “purchase” a portion of the park, which designers have divided into 1,400 sections of 16 square feet each. One section can be bought for a $500 tax-deductible donation. For more information, visit www.alca.org or call 1-800 395-ALCA.

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